female sales clerk standing next to a cash register

Going Back To Work: How To Come To Terms With The Idea

female sales clerk standing next to a cash register

 

Are you a stay-at-home parent looking at divorce?  Most of my mediation cases involve a stay-at-home parent, usually Moms, but sometimes Dads. It takes a while to emotionally come to terms that your lifestyle will change during and after your divorce.

Going back to work

Going back to work is a change that is scary and hard to accept. There is the loss of prestige, loss of your social life, and your way of living. Fearing rejection from potential employers and lacking confidence in your modern work skills is normal. You may feel that a “deal” was made that you would not have to work, and you feel that deal should be kept. You will have to trust someone else to watch your kids and that’s hard for both you and your kids to accept.

The reality is that most women who were stay-at-home Moms don’t recover their standard of living after divorce.  Sadly, many end up living close to the poverty level upon retirement. Going back to work is a reality you need to face sooner rather than later. Existing assets will be depleted if you remain unemployed or underemployed. Making smart divorce decisions like going back to work will provide you a better chance at a secure retirement.

Should you go back to work before the divorce is final?

Attorneys will sometimes tell their clients not to go back to work during the divorce so they can get more support. This may work for some but it can also backfire.  Judges expect a physically able woman to return to work. I have seen judges impute income (at least minimum wage) for purposes of determining child support and spousal support when a non-working spouse is young and healthy enough to get a job (and has children over 3 years of age).

North Carolina child support guidelines only cover basic expenses.  When a parent chooses not to work, the children’s financial support suffers.  The litigation process can also take years; years during which your financial situation suffers and years wasted not getting experience, raises, and generally improving your job situation. If your attorney doesn’t “win” for you, it can be a financial disaster.

Should your ex be forced to support you?

In mediation, the working spouse usually tells me that they would find it unfair to have their lifestyle severely decline to support an ex-spouse who wants to continue to stay at home. In my “grey” (over age 50) divorces, the children are in college or in their late teens. In those cases, staying at home is seen as unfairly “retiring”, often in their early or mid-fifties.  The working spouse envisions themselves working until they are 70 or beyond. For these reasons, the working spouse asks that some level of job income be “imputed” upon the non-working spouse.

Try to look for the positives and rise to the challenge!  Technology has probably changed a lot since you have been out of the workforce but that knowledge can be learned in a short period of time. There are online courses on YouTube, Thinkific, and LinkedIn Learning where you can learn the skills you need for little or no money.

You can get a jump start by learning those skills while you are still at home. Getting formal education may not be financially smart or necessary because it postpones the inevitable, uses up resources, and may not necessarily result in enough additional income to be justified. Going back to school is sometimes just a coping mechanism because working or seeking work is much scarier than going to school.

Childcare while at work

Leaving the kids in someone else’s care is hard to face!  Realize that many kids with working parents grow up to be successful adults. There are many safe and trustworthy people out there who provide quality care for children and today having working parents is the norm.

Going back to work can help build your self-esteem and after divorce, everyone needs that boost!  Being a stay-at-home parent can be thankless!! Your kids don’t often thank you for a job well done and there is no paycheck. Being told by your boss that you are doing a great job and getting a raise can be a huge boost for your self-confidence and self-esteem. Women who rise to the challenge – even if they build up careers that result in a fraction of their ex-husband’s income – seem to be much happier and well-adjusted post-divorce.

Finally going back to work can improve your social life. At work, you will have new activities and challenges to think about. Plus you will be meeting new women and men and start new friendships, maybe even find romance!

The post Going Back To Work: How To Come To Terms With The Idea appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Time to Divorce.jpg

Time To Divorce: Do You Know What To Expect During The Divorce Process?

Time to Divorce.jpg

 

By its very nature, divorce is not a pleasant experience. Involve divorce attorneys and Family Court Judges and the unprepared person, the situation becomes much more stressful. In most cases, a person is so emotionally worn down by the time they decide it’s time to divorce they’ve not had the wherewithal to consider what the legal process of divorce entails.

Once the legal wheels start spinning, there may be no turning back. The moment those papers are filed, everything you’ve worked for sweated for, and planned for during your marriage is at risk. The wheels spin fast at first, then slow down to an agonizing pace. Days can seem like weeks, even months!

You find yourself smack in the middle of the divorce process with the sinking feeling that things might not go as planned. That great idea that you had…to divorce and move on with your life might not have been so great after all. In fact, it has turned into an absolute disaster.

Welcome to the wonderful world of divorce and its cast of supporting characters…lawyers, judges, interrogatories, continuances, custody disputes and high expectations. Most parties to a divorce have never been involved in legal litigation, used an attorney, or been inside a courtroom. For them, divorce is their first sobering involvement with the world of legal litigation. Divorce is both an end to a marriage and the beginning of an education in family law.

If you aren’t emotionally prepared to maneuver the choppy waters of the legal divorce process, you are not ready to divorce.

Can you answer the following questions?

  • How is custody of children decided in your state?
  • How does the court divide marital property?
  • Can I move to a new location after divorce?
  • What do I need to know before hiring a divorce attorney?
  • Who has to move out of the marital home?
  • What is divorce mediation?

If you are confused by the above questions, you are not ready to enter the legal process of divorce. You’ve got some learning to do! And until you’ve done your homework, believe me, you don’t want to find yourself tangled up in the legal process of divorce.

There are 3 things you should do when it is time to divorce.

Once you’ve come to terms with the emotional ending of your marriage and gotten yourself financially prepared, you will need to do the following:

1. Understand Divorce Law:

Most will tell you that your legal education begins with a divorce attorney. I strongly disagree! No one is prepared to hire a divorce attorney until they have an understanding of their state’s divorce laws which will give them a better understanding of what they should and should not expect from a divorce attorney.

Divorce in the United States is governed by laws that are particular to each state. State divorce laws deal with all aspects of the divorce process, from residency requirements to child custody to the division of marital property.

2. Be Prepared:

There are documents a divorce attorney will need to get your divorce underway. Gathering these documents and having them ready before you hire an attorney can help keep those “wheels” spinning and allow you to feel more prepared.

This is not fun, but you will be glad you took the time to compile these documents at the beginning. You will need copies of tax returns for the last three years. If you filed separately, you will need copies of your tax returns and your spouse’s tax returns. Make copies of all bank accounts, joint accounts, and individual accounts for the last year.

Credit card statements for accounts held jointly and separately should be copied and provided to an attorney. You will also need at least three paystubs or proof of monthly income for yourself and your spouse, a list of all monthly expenses, a list of all marital assets and debts, and a brief description of how parenting duties are handled between the two of you. Once you’ve put together these documents, you are ready to hire a divorce attorney.

3. Hire a Divorce Attorney:

This is the person who will promote your best interest during the divorce process. You won’t find a divorce attorney who has as much invested in your divorce as you do BUT with a little research, you can find one who is invested enough in his/her legal reputation to make sure that you are legally protected.

A look at the divorce process

Below is a loose outline of 8 things that happens during the divorce process. I say loosely because each state and local district handles divorce differently. Regardless of your state’s laws and your district’s legal procedures, you will experience each step in some form or another.

1. File for Divorce:

A divorce or dissolution usually begins with the filing of a form, typically referred to as the original petition for divorce. This must be filed with the court that deals with marriages in the county where you live, which may be called the Family Law Court. After the petition has been filed, a copy must be served on (or delivered to) your spouse.

2. Divide Marital Property:

You will need to either work out an agreement on how your marital property is to be divided or argue about it in divorce court. Courts prefer that the parties work things out for themselves, and some states or counties require mandatory mediation, which means meeting with a neutral third party who will help you resolve conflicts over who gets what. If the parties can’t agree on a way to divide their property, the court will decide.

3. Distribute Marital Debt:

Debts incurred during the marriage need to be divided between the spouses along with the property. Joint debts may be deducted from the amount of property the spouses own together, or some debts may be considered the responsibility of only one spouse. This depends on the system your state uses for dividing marital debt.

4. Negotiate Spousal Support: 

Support paid by one ex-spouse for the support of the other used to be called alimony but is now often called spousal support or maintenance. The laws for spousal support vary a great deal from state to state, and you should be sure you know what your state requires. Spousal support can be awarded to both husbands and wives.

5. Decide Child Custody/Visitation:

The single most important thing parents need to work out in a divorce or dissolution is the way they will continue to raise their children and what kind of custody they will use, and it’s always best if they can work out this plan cooperatively. Some states call this a parenting plan and no longer use terms like custody and visitation.

There are many questions that must be resolved, such as where the children will live, how much time they will spend with either parent, where they will spend holidays, or which parent will make decisions about the children. One or both parents might make legal decisions, such as where the children will go to school and what medical care or medication they will receive. Parents also have to resolve issues about the religious training and activities of the children.

If the parents can’t agree on these issues, the court will consider the best interests of the children in resolving the conflicts. The court will look at the gender of the parents and children, their physical and mental health, emotional bonds, the effect on children of changing their living situation, and—if a child is around 12 years or older—the child’s preference.

The court also considers practical matters such as the ability of the parents to provide the necessities of life, such as shelter, food, and clothing. Court orders involving children are never final. They can always be changed if the best interests of the children require it.

6. Calculate Child Support: 

After a divorce or dissolution, both parents remain responsible for supporting the children. Divorcing parents need to negotiate child support or the courts will use state guidelines to do so. There are several factors to consider in working this out, such as the income and assets of the parents and whether one parent has primary childcare responsibilities. If the parents can’t work this out agreeably, the court will make the decision and order the parents to comply.

7. Mediation:

Divorce mediation is a process where the divorcing parties sit down with a mediator (a neutral third party) to work out and resolve conflicts over property division, finances, debts, and support and/or child custody/visitation. If the state is paying for the mediation, the mediator often reports back to the court with information about the mediation session(s).

The parties can also arrange their own privately paid mediation sessions, which will be completely confidential. Decisions reached in mediation aren’t legally binding but can be included in the court’s final order or decree. Attorneys usually don’t attend mediation sessions, though they may be available to advise the parties on legal issues.

8. Final Judgment of Divorce: 

The final judgment of divorce is the final order of the court that legally ends the marriage. The final judgment can also contain legally binding orders about other issues, such as child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, property division, and how property division is to be carried out. It can also restore the pre-marriage name to one or both spouses.

Filing for divorce means stepping into the world of the Family Court System.

It is a world of legal rules and, at times, extreme emotional stress. It can change the way you live, the way you think, and the way you do things. Ignorance of what takes place in the system and how to take care of yourself can be the mistake that kills your chances of a successful post-divorce life.

I’m sharing with you information about the divorce process and the negative aspects of the legal process not to dissuade you from leaving your marriage. My concern is that you fully understand the process before putting yourself in the middle of the process.

Knowing when or if it is time to divorce means having a comprehensive understanding of exactly what it means to divorce. Unless you are in a situation where divorce can be handled in a civil manner between you and your spouse having full knowledge of what to expect in a conflicted divorce scenario is the only way you will be able to protect your legal rights.

The steps that I’ve shared above may seem simple, cut and dry but if you are divorcing a spouse who is angry, hurt over your decision to divorce or is unable to accept the idea of divorce you will become involved with a system in which no one wins but the system.

Understanding the emotional, financial and legal aspects of divorce before deciding to divorce means you will be making an informed decision about how and with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.

After Thoughts

I’m not someone with “standard” views on marriage and relationships. I do however have traditional views when it comes to choosing to divorce once you’ve committed to a marriage. It is my opinion that if you get married you should put in the appropriate time and attention to the marriage and do everything possible to save the marriage before making the choice to divorce.

When you take the vow, make the promise to stay with someone for the rest of your life, “for better or, for worse,” it is no small thing. I’m keen on folks keeping promises but for every promise made there is a price to pay and when the price you pay in your marriage becomes too high it is better to break your word than do harm to yourself by keeping it.

Here is the problem as I see it…people get married for a lot of foolish reasons. Some marry because they think society expects it of them. Some marry because they think it will solve some problem they are grappling with. Some believe marriage is the natural end to any relationship, that something is wrong if a relationship doesn’t culminate in marriage vows. Some marry because marriage confirms them as a person.

None of us marry without the expectation that the marriage will last “until death do us part.” But, that doesn’t always happen; our expectations about marriage are not always met. Nothing is more evident of that than the 40% divorce rate we experience in this country. In my business as a marriage educator and divorce consultant I often wonder why people don’t take more seriously the high rate of divorce. Could it be they don’t because there are some very, very good reasons to divorce?

The decision to divorce should only be made if something is radically wrong in the marriage. What do I mean by radically wrong? Well, there is abuse, infidelity, broken trust, disrespect to name a few examples of marital problems that might not be overcome with hard work.

We don’t take lightly the decision to marry; we should not take lightly the decision to divorce!

The post Time To Divorce: Do You Know What To Expect During The Divorce Process? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Attorney Chris Melcher's Data Footprints Suggest Links to Public Court and Cops on the Take

Melcher Crypto Payments Linked to Santa Clara County Sheriff Deputies Working as Court Bailiffs 

Data Footprints for Santa Clara County Sheriff Deputies Manuel Rey  and Carrie Swenson  , exposed by LA Divorce Attorney Christopher Melcher who works as a ” volunteer” Sheriff Deputy in Los Angeles,  reveal patterns of white collar gang activity tied to California’s  family and criminal courthouses.

These patterns show complex bribery schemes connected to divorce case rigging. The scheme includes kickbacks to  Sheriff deputies working in public courthouses,  or  hired on overtime to work secondary employment for the 49ers, LA Dodgers. 

These data dumps also reveal cops connected to public and private court judges as well as  secondary  side hustles for  businesses performing arbitration, mediation and private judge services. 

Sheriff Sgt. Manuel Rey 
 
Bryan Oliveri 
Rick Alanis 
Judge Mary Greenwood
Jim Helms 
Julian Quinonez 
Lisa Herrick
Sung Park 
​Sandra McManus  
Brain Tanaka  
Carrie Swenson 

Sgt.   Carrie Swenson 

​Bryan Oliveri
Tracy Fleming 

David Gomez 
Judge Mary Greenwood 
David Luca 

Rita Reser  
Kimberly Nielsen, LMFT 


Captain Jim Helms 

​David Gomez
Steve Myers  
Steven Villarreal II  
Gary Myers
Matt Rosen 
Steven Fox 
Rick Sung  
Mark Tarasco
Garland Mayfield 
Mark Roggia
Javier Moreno 
Henry Rocha  
Judge Vanessa Zecher 
Scott Meeks  

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“The Family Law Menu” Includes Litigation

“The Family Law Menu” Includes Litigation

Originally published by Larry Hance.

20 years ago, I had the opportunity to help bring a new process to Texas to resolve divorces – Collaborative Divorce. It was a breath of fresh air for caring, conscious lawyers who had been representing folks in divorce and other family law matters for years. We proceeded to provide trainings, forms, and practice procedures to help Texas lawyers do this new process, and do it well.

Today, Texas is seen as a leader in Collaborative Divorce in the country. Most of those lawyers who were trained in the beginning continue to represent clients in the Collaborative Divorce process, and some only handle matters collaboratively. And hundreds and hundreds of other lawyers have been trained during those 20 years.

In order to help get Collaborative started in Texas, I went on the speaking circuit, talking to lawyers and the public to educate them about the benefits of Collaborative. I called many of those early talks “The Family Law Menu” because before Collaborative was introduced, we all pretty much handled all divorces the same way. It was all in the litigation process, even though most divorces settled without a final trial. 

Collaborative opened my mind to the idea that there can be multiple possible processes to help parties resolve their divorces. That’s when we started talking about a “menu” or “process options”, including “kitchen table” (where the parties primarily work out the terms), “lawyer/lawyer negotiation” (using the lawyers as a conduit of the parties’ settlement communications), “mediation” (which in Texas is really adjunct to the litigation process), “Collaborative Divorce” (where the parties and their two lawyers have a series of meetings together and have assistance from a neutral financial professional and a neutral mental health professional), and last “litigation” (using the court to resolve the issues). 

Because I was a constant speaker for a few years on these topics, and a leader in the Collaborative Divorce movement in Texas, many of my long time friends and referral sources began to assume that my firm only handled “friendly” divorces or divorces in the collaborative process. 

That has never been true, and it’s for several good reasons: 

  1. parties need strong, competent legal help regardless of the process used;
  2. most folks don’t know what type of process will be best for them until they meet with a good attorney who can help them make that decision; and
  3. we want to be able to help all individuals have a better divorce experience, regardless of how difficult the circumstances, the other party, or the other attorney may be. 

Some folks, because of fear and anxiety, believe they must have a hard-fought, contentious divorce. And if they only see attorneys who handle divorces that way, that’s what they will end up with. While some clients do need to resolve their disputes in the litigation process, many who believe it’s necessary can learn that not only is it not, but it’s a really bad idea for them to reach the goals they have. 

So, Jonathan, Bryce and I handle cases in court throughout our days, weeks and months for clients who must go there. But the difference in our approach and many others is that we work with them to see what the best process is that will help them achieve their goals. Then we pursue that process diligently, using our deep experience and knowledge of both family law, and the court system and procedures to achieve our clients’ best possible outcome. That’s what it’s all about!

 

About the Author

Larry Hance is managing partner and founder of the Dallas law firm Hance Law Group. With more than 35 years of experience in family law, Mr. Hance uses his experience with the legal system, judges and other lawyers to help clients achieve the best possible results.

To schedule an initial consultation with Larry and the Hance Law Group team, please call us at 469.374.9600 or email Kelly Bailey at kbailey@hancelaw.com.

The post “The Family Law Menu” Includes Litigation appeared first on Hance Law Group | Trusted Dallas Family Law Attorneys.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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mothers have an advantage in custody disputes

Do Mothers Have an Advantage in Custody Disputes?

mothers have an advantage in custody disputes

 

If you are going through a divorce, a primary concern is often your children and your child custody arrangements. It’s difficult for any parent to contemplate not having their children living with them all of the time, but it can be even more difficult for mothers who have a close bond with their children.

If you and your husband cannot come to custody terms that you both can sign off on, the court will need to decide the matter for you. While many people think that mothers have a natural advantage in such disputes, the truth is far more complicated. Understanding the basics related to child custody can help you navigate the process while standing up for your own parental rights.

Legal Custody

Custody is divided into two major concerns that include physical custody (related to with whom the children reside at any given time) and legal custody. It’s important to recognize that in the vast majority of divorces, both parents share legal custody, which refers to a parent’s rights to make important decisions on behalf of their children. These decisions include:

  • Matters related to your children’s health and well-being, such as medical care
  • Matters related to your children’s education
  • Matters related to your children’s religious upbringing

These are fundamental issues that shape your children’s lives, and it’s very likely that you and your divorced spouse will continue to make these important decisions together, although one parent is sometimes given tie-breaking authority.

Physical Custody

Physical custody relates to with whom your children reside primarily and to their visitation schedule with the other parent. While many people believe that mothers have an advantage when it comes to physical custody, this really isn’t an accurate assessment in many cases.

Do Mothers Have an Advantage in Custody Disputes?

The Court’s Stance

If you and your divorcing spouse cannot come to mutually acceptable terms regarding your children’s custody arrangements, the court will intervene and make a determination of how you will split custody rights.

The court will always favor what is in the best interest of your children, but this is obviously open to interpretation, and it’s important to remember that the court has considerable discretion in the matter. You obviously know your children in a way that the judge never can, and you know what’s best for them.

Courts often favor the status quo when making child custody decisions. In other words, if the mother has been the primary caregiver and she and the children are living in the family home while the case is pending, the judge may be hesitant to upset the balance and may be more inclined to award the mother primary custody.

This is generally more a function of how things are commonly arranged than it is a function of favoring the mother or of the mother having an advantage in the matter.

The Considerations at Hand

In determining child custody arrangements, the court is guided by the children’s best interests, but in the process, it takes a wide range of variables into consideration, including:

  • The emotional connections between each parent and the children
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the children with a loving home and a healthy life
  • Any criminal history
  • Any history of domestic abuse – either physical, emotional, or sexual
  • Any substance abuse issues
  • Any pertinent parental considerations that could affect the decision, such as age or disability
  • The location of each parent’s residence (who lives closer to the children’s school, for example)

None of these issues are gender-specific and, as such, the court’s decision cannot favor the mother. Many mothers, however, are already providing primary custodial care, and courts are not fond of dramatically disrupting children’s lives when they’re already going through the emotional challenge of divorce. After all, divorce is hard on everyone, but children are especially vulnerable.

Your Children’s Voices

Many parents wonder if their children’s preferences will guide – or should guide – the court’s custody decisions. The fact is that many judges will speak to your children privately (especially older children) and will take their preferences into careful consideration, but the decision is simply not up to your children.

The court is making determinations related to your children’s custody exactly because they are children who need custodial care. When your children are adults, they’ll make their own important decisions, but for now, those decisions must be made for them. Your children’s voices, nevertheless, may help guide the court’s ruling.

Reaching a Resolution

If you’re going through a divorce, emotions are inevitably running high. The stress and heartache of divorce leave many couples unable to reach mutually agreeable terms on many important issues. Both of you, however, naturally put your children first, and if you can find a way to hammer out custody arrangements that you can both live with, the court and its considerable discretion won’t need to be involved in the process.

Reaching a compromise with your children’s father can come in many forms. If you aren’t able to work together personally (which isn’t uncommon), your attorneys can attempt to negotiate an arrangement, and you can also address the issue via mediation – with the legal guidance of your respective divorce attorneys.

The post Do Mothers Have an Advantage in Custody Disputes? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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6 Points to Consider Before Choosing the Divorce Mediation Process

6 Points to Consider Before Choosing the Divorce Mediation Process

The divorce mediation process requires both spouses to engage in conversation and discussion with the mediator acting as a facilitator. 

The post 6 Points to Consider Before Choosing the Divorce Mediation Process appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Narcissistic Traits Create Complications During Divorce

How Narcissistic Traits Create Complications During Divorce

Narcissistic Traits Create Complications During Divorce

 

Many women who are married to narcissistic husbands become fed up with the situation and decide to get a divorce. While separating and filing for divorce might bring an immediate sense of relief from the challenges of living with a narcissist, the challenges might very well continue throughout the divorce process.

Divorce is difficult enough without the complications that a spouse with a narcissistic personality disorder can bring to the table. You might face unexpected and unnecessary conflict throughout the legal process, as your spouse might repeatedly attempt to make the divorce as trying as possible for you. Even if you have been dealing with their behavior for years, it can be challenging to stand your ground and ensure that you fight for your rights in the divorce.

How Narcissistic Traits Can Create Complications

In many divorces, both spouses will recognize that – despite their differences – compromise and cooperation will save them money, time, and stress.

However, narcissistic personality traits can make it nearly impossible for your spouse to agree to compromise. Some common personality traits of narcissistic people can include:

  • Unjustified sense of entitlement
  • Inflated superiority and self-importance
  • Putting down those they believe to be inferior to them
  • Expecting constant admiration or recognition
  • Expecting others to comply with their wishes without question
  • Being unable to realize the needs or feelings of others
  • Inability to calmly handle stressful situations
  • Difficulty adapting to change
  • Constantly changing their wants and desires
  • Reacting with angry outbursts or even vengeance if they believe they are not getting what they want at the moment

Because they believe they are superior and in the right, narcissists tend to think that everyone else is in the wrong. Even if your spouse caused most of your marital problems and conflict, expect to be blamed and for them to present themselves as the victim in the situation.

To make matters worse, once your spouse starts blaming you, they will likely be unwavering in this position. They will likely start to believe this narrative themselves.

Expecting Too Much

Because your spouse might believe they are the victim of the divorce, and they might already have an inflated sense of entitlement, they likely will feel entitled to much more than their share in the outcome of your case. They might refuse to agree to a reasonable division of property, custody arrangement, or financial support order.

This might also be the case if your spouse is feeling vengeful and trying to “get back” at you by trying to take everything away from you. This fight to “get everything” can cause serious complications in your legal case.

First, divorce is always simpler and faster when spouses can reach their own agreement. Whether you can agree on the major issues on your own or through mediation, presenting the court with an agreement upfront can save the time and expense of litigation. You should not have to give up more than necessary, however, just because your spouse demands it.

If your spouse is making unreasonable demands that deprive you of property or custody rights under the law, you should stand your ground, no matter how difficult that might seem.

How the Right Divorce Lawyer Can Help in this Situation

Narcissists know how to manipulate a situation to get what they want, so it is important that you have the right divorce attorney on your side from the start of the process. An attorney can look at the situation objectively and keep reminding you of your rights and what you deserve in the divorce outcome.

An experienced lawyer will not take your spouse’s actions and words personally and can help you stay the course until your divorce is final with a fair outcome for you.

In many cases, having an attorney act as an intermediary between your soon-to-be-ex and you can give you the time and space you need to see your situation clearly. In addition, not communicating with your husband directly can prevent you from falling into the unhealthy patterns of communication that likely played a role in the demise of your marriage.

This can often facilitate reaching an out-of-court agreement, which will almost certainly save you a significant amount of time and money.

In some cases, it may be a good idea to ask your spouse to agree to a psychiatric evaluation in order to establish evidence regarding his personality disorder. This is particularly true in cases where you believe your children may be put in danger of emotional or physical harm due to his issues. An official recent diagnosis could be used as evidence in your favor when it comes to the determination of child custody.

Just because your spouse has narcissistic personality traits does not mean you should give up your rights in your divorce case. When you meet with your lawyer initially, be honest about your spouse’s personality, so your lawyer knows what they will be dealing with right from the start. They can then plan a strategy to help you obtain a successful outcome as efficiently as possible.

The post How Narcissistic Traits Create Complications During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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hiring an effective attorney

The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence

hiring an effective attorney

 

My parents divorced right after I was born and I was raised by my mother. She was a social worker for the New York State Division for Youth. She worked there for decades and I can remember going into her government office, in Syracuse, New York, and raiding the office’s supply closet. Money was always tight.

Being raised by a single mother was challenging, for sure, but I was very fortunate that my mother was emotionally intelligent. In fact, had I been raised by my father I suspect my life would have been far less purpose-driven and more focused on self-centered endeavors. I am a very lucky man in that respect.

I am now a divorce and family attorney with a family of my own. I speak with people every day about divorce, custody modifications, relocation, decision-making and everything else one would expect of someone managing a large family law firm. I watch competitors everyday market to their “target audience.”

Marketing Based on Fear:

We have a lot of “Men’s Rights Firms” here in our state, and they get many clients calling every day. We have law firms locally that market “aggressive representation” (admittedly I did as well in the beginning) and messaging similar to “We Win Family Law cases.”  Nobody wins these cases. I see no value in advertising expertise or specialty related to the sex of a client. It’s marketing based on fear, and it’s natural for parents to be fearful as they contemplate major life changes.

I disagree with the idea that you need to have any plan in place other than being very deliberate and thoughtful about choosing an attorney.

He cheated on you.

He lied to you.

He isn’t a good dad.

He used marital money to buy his mid-life-crisis answer.

If someone told you, when you are raw and emotional, to get aggressive and hire Lawyer X to fight for you, I suspect you would think that is a good idea. I suspect I would feel the same way. But that is really, really bad advice.

The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence

Fighting and being aggressive has its place in every family law case, but how you fight and how you are aggressive is the key. Understand that you are extracting yourself from a dysfunctional relationship. There is pain, fear, anger and every other emotion open and available for you to experience.The feeling you do not want is regret with your choice in representation.

I strongly suggest that you seek representation that does not mirror you, your emotions, or your anger…at least at the outset. Do not hire an attorney who gets you motivated to destroy him. If your case warrants a parenting time restriction, or a protection order, a private investigator or a Child and Family Investigator then the right attorney will guide you only after he or she understands your case, your relationship with your husband and children, and your goals.

Choose an emotionally intelligent lawyer. 

What exactly is that?

Emotionally intelligent people are…aware. That’s all. But that’s huge! An emotionally intelligent attorney uses all her tools in her toolbox. She doesn’t react to opposing counsel who thinks being a jerk is in the job description.

An emotionally intelligent attorney uses data, strategy and thought in accordance with a communicated plan of action geared towards a successful outcome. They think about their actions and advice, understanding the raw nature of the situation, and they don’t exploit the client’s fears. Emotionally intelligent attorneys can inspire and protect clients, oftentimes, from themselves.

Think about it. Your husband cheated on you with someone you know. He is clearly a piece of trash and shouldn’t have parenting time because he can’t be trusted. Right? Or, even more cutting, he introduces your children to her as he and your babies “accidentally” run into her while grocery shopping. You want it to stop. You want him to pay dearly. That mindset will have many lawyers licking their chops to follow your strategy and blow it all up…and bill you for it all.

Emotional intelligence is not a weakness. It is the epitome of strength and most lawyers don’t have it. Emotional intelligence is seeing the case from both the 30,000-foot view, anticipating behaviors based on the data, and having the legal and factual knowledge to make strategic decisions that benefit the client in the short term and long term.

Emotional intelligence is not ripping off scathing emails to opposing counsel, at your behest, because you are hurt. Emotional intelligence is using your narcissist husband’s abusive texts to your advantage by waiting until he portrays himself the way he sees himself and opposite to what the facts, collateral witnesses and written or recorded communications conclusively portray him to be.

If your “aggressive lawyer” did what you asked, or on her own, acted, by emailing opposing counsel and threatened your husband you will feel better…and you likely lost the benefit of all the data because you allowed the lawyer to tip off your husband that he has bad facts to overcome.

Emotionally intelligent lawyers see the forest through the trees and effectively save you from your emotions, while at the same time advancing your effectively strategized case towards a successful resolution. Sophisticated, emotionally intelligent representation can be lulling your husband to sleep with false confidence, only to trap him in his lies at mediation or trial.

That is effective, and even aggressive, representation and is done at the highest level by very few attorneys.

There is nothing worse than lining up a narcissist with his own words/actions/behaviors only to see this leverage disappear because a lawyer was lazy, greedy or both.

The post The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney:  Emotional Intelligence appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Texas Mediated Settlement Agreement May Be Binding Even If Signed Before Divorce Is Filed

Texas Mediated Settlement Agreement May Be Binding Even If Signed Before Divorce Is Filed

Originally published by Francesca Blackard.

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Texas family law allows the parties to a divorce to enter into a binding mediated settlement agreement (MSA).  If the agreement meets certain requirements, a party is entitled to judgment on the agreement.  In some cases, however, one party may wish to challenge a mediated settlement agreement.  In a recent case, a wife challenged the enforceability of a mediated settlement agreement.

The couple was married for about 10 years when the wife decided to end the marriage.  She sought a mediator, and the parties attended mediation without attorneys and executed a written MSA.

The MSA made the parents joint managing conservators, with the husband having the right to designate the kids’ primary residence.  The parties agreed the husband would keep the marital home and the wife would not pay child support.  The MSA required the wife to file the divorce petition within 10 days.  The MSA further provided the case would be finalized any time after May 1, 2015.

The husband filed a divorce petition nine days after the MSA was executed.  He asked the court to approve and render judgment consistent with the MSA.  The wife filed an answer with a general denial.  The husband and his attorney appeared in court, but the wife did not receive notice of the hearing and did not appear.  The trial court rendered oral judgment on the MSA at the hearing.

 

The wife moved to set aside the verdict, and alternatively, for a new trial.  She also moved to revoke the MSA, arguing it did not comply with the Family Code because it was signed before the divorce petition was filed.  She also argued the hearing had violated her due process rights because she had not received the required notice.  Finally, she argued the husband breached the MSA when he filed the divorce petition because the MSA provided she would do so.  The trial court denied the wife’s motions and incorporated the terms of the MSA into its final decree.

The wife appealed, and the appeals court reversed.  The appeals court held there must be a pending suit for divorce for an MSA to be statutorily binding.  The parties had executed the agreement before the divorce petition was filed, so it was just an ordinary contract.  The appeals court also found the wife had been denied due process when she did not receive notice of the hearing.  The appeals court held she was entitled to 45 days’ notice because she had made an appearance by filing the answer.

The husband petitioned for review by the Texas Supreme Court.  Pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 6.602, a mediated settlement agreement is binding if it includes a prominent irrevocability provision, is signed by both parties, and signed by any party’s attorney present.  If the agreement meets these requirements, it is binding on the parties and the court generally must adopt it in the divorce decree.

The wife argued the MSA was not enforceable because there was no divorce suit pending when it was signed.  The appeals court based its decision on language in the statute that a trial court “may refer a suit for dissolution of marriage to mediation.”  The Texas Supreme Court rejected this reasoning, noting that the statute allows a court to refer a divorce suit to mediation, but does not require it.  The Texas Supreme Court also noted that a trial court only has authority to order mediation once suit has been filed.  The statute does not restrict the parties’ right to voluntarily participate in binding mediation.

The Supreme Court of Texas held there was no requirement under the statute that the divorce suit be pending when the MSA was signed.  This MSA met the enumerated requirements of the statute and was therefore binding on the parties.

The Texas Supreme Court then considered whether the wife’s due process rights were violated.  Tex. R. Civ. P. 245 requires at least 45 days’ notice for contested cases, but provides that “[n]oncontested cases may be tried or disposed of at any time whether set or not…” The husband argued the parties had resolved their disputes through the MSA and the case was therefore not contested at the time of the hearing.  The Texas Supreme Court rejected this argument.

The Texas Supreme Court noted the wife had filed a general denial in answer to the petition.  She had made an appearance and put the matters raised in the petition at issue.  The case was therefore contested and the wife was entitled to notice.  The Texas Supreme Court also noted that MSA’s are often challenged and therefore the existence of an MSA does not make a case uncontested. The trial court erred in rendering judgment without the wife having notice of the hearing.

The Texas Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court, but pointed out the court and parties would be bound by its holding that a pending suit is not required for the MSA to be binding under the statute.

The Texas Supreme Court has now resolved the question of whether a mediated settlement agreement is binding if it is signed before the divorce petition is signed.  If you are facing a divorce, an experienced Texas divorce attorney can guide you through the entire process, including mediation and trial if necessary.  Call McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200 to schedule a consultation.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Mediation and its impact on your Texas Child Custody Case

Mediation and its impact on your Texas Child Custody Case

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

It has become a trend in recent years for courts in southeast Texas to mandate that parties must attend at least one session of mediation (and likely more) before they ever are able to have their case presented in front of a judge during a trial. As far as alternatives to having to go the “distance” in a contested child custody case, mediation is at the top of the list as far as places to go when you need a resolution to your case.

The benefits of meditation are many. You and your opposing party are able to take an active and participatory role in the process that will determine the outcome of your case. This is the case to an extent in a trial, but keep in mind you are only able to present evidence once you get in front of a judge. It is the judge who will be making the final decision in your trial.

Domestic violence and mediation in Texas

Child custody cases that involve domestic violence can be especially troublesome when taken in the context of mediation. For one, if you are the victim of acts of domestic violence as perpetrated upon you by the opposing party in your child custody case that you may not be able to negotiate to the fullest extent possible. This is often times the case because you are not only fearful of your own well-being during mediation but can also be “under the thumb” of the opposing party due to their role in supporting you economically. If you haven’t worked in a decade or more, how freely can you negotiate in mediation knowing that your well-being is tied up in the other person paying your bills?

It is for this reason that the requirement for you and your opposing party to mediate your case is waived in many southeast Texas courts when family violence is an issue. Furthermore, even if the requirement to mediate your case is not waived automatically due to family violence being involved, it can happen that if you object to having to go that the objection will likely be upheld by the judge.

In cases where there is domestic violence that has occurred between you and your opposing party do not be surprised if the judge takes extraordinary steps to ensure your protection. I have seen judges appoint third parties to attend mediation as an extension of the court in order to help prevent additional acts of violence from occurring. Many judges have “go-to” mediators who have specific experience one expertise in handling cases where there have been acts of domestic violence perpetrated by one party against the other.

If you have been the victim of family violence it is ultimately up to you whether or not you will attend mediation in your case. Some people believe that there are still benefits to be had with the process if, in fact, you feel that you can negotiate freely, considering the circumstances. On the other hand, you may feel constrained for multiple reasons and can choose to opt out of the mediation requirement of your court. Either way, this is a decision that is fact-specific and ought to be discussed at length with your attorney prior to arriving at a final decision.

International divorces- how where you’re from can impact your Texas divorce

In a city like Houston, it is not at all uncommon to encounter families who have one or both parents born internationally or at least have roots in another country. You may be in a position where you are currently living abroad while your spouse lives here in the United States. Or, you both may live here in the United States but you could own property in foreign countries. Your having had children may have created opportunities for you to visit family abroad more often. There are certainly numerous ways that your family could have international ties.

Family law in Texas becomes a tad more complicated when you consider the implications of an international divorce. The more diverse the set of facts and circumstances, the more crucial it becomes for you to be able to sort through them in a logical and clear-headed manner. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss this topic in greater detail.

What are the main issues relevant to an international divorce?

From my experiences, there are basically six topics that we have to discuss that relate in some way to an international divorce. Those issues would be jurisdiction, service of process, choice of law, discovery, property division and then the enforcement of the orders that are arrived at in the child custody or divorce case. While we can say with some confidence what the issues are that we need to discuss, the fact that they are all interconnected can make things more complicated.

Let’s take each of those six issues and discuss them in greater detail.

Jurisdiction- who gets to decide what?

If you are like most people who go through a divorce, you are likely chomping at the bit to have the important questions of your case decided. Who gets what property? How much child support are you going to have to pay? To what extent will you be able to see your children? These are all relevant questions that need to be answered. Unfortunately, they are questions that cannot be answered without first determining whether or not Texas has jurisdiction to hear the case. If, in fact, the state of Texas lacks jurisdiction to hear your case then you are in a position where you need to figure out what venue is appropriate.

Simply put, jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to make rulings and issue orders in a specific legal matter that is brought before it. These rulings, in a divorce context, are usually tied to property rights and child custody. In an international divorce, you not only have to contend with the questions of whether or not Texas has jurisdiction over your case but whether or not any U.S. state has jurisdiction over your case.

Personal jurisdiction is the first issue that we have to tackle. Ask yourself whether or not you and your spouse have sufficient ties with Texas in the event that it is here that you want your case to be heard.

Next, you will need to determine whether or not a court in Texas has the authority to handle your divorce case and all the issues that are connected to it.

Finally, it could be the case that Texas and another jurisdiction both have equally strong claims to hearing your case. In that event which court should and would your case be heard in?

From the beginning of your case until its end, these are the dominant themes and questions that you will be asking yourself. The difficult part of the process is that determining jurisdiction is not always a straightforward issue. A judge in Texas may have jurisdiction over your case while a judge in another country may have an equally strong claim to having jurisdiction. In those type of situations, you and your attorney will need to determine where your case ought to be filed from a strategic standpoint.

What country’s laws should apply to your international divorce?

Family laws differ significantly from state to state in our country so I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to find out that the laws of divorce can vary even more so from country to country. Once you have determined which court will actually be hearing your case the next question that needs to be asked is what set of laws will be determining the contested issues in your case.

First of all, how will you file for divorce? Do you need to assert “fault grounds” for your divorce? Texas allows you to file for divorce for any reason under the sun- including no particular reason at all. However, some foreign countries do not allow you to do so. Will you need to prove adultery or domestic violence in order to get your divorce if you have to file in an international divorce?

Next, does the law of the country that will govern your divorce require that you divide the property up in your divorce along with a 50/50 basis? Texas is a community property state that, absent other circumstances, will usually require a fairly even split of the marital assets (property that came into being during the course of your marriage).

Will prenuptial or postnuptial agreements be honored?

The concept of prenups has become fairly well known through our popular culture in the United States. Coming to an agreement with your spouse-to-be while you are still on good terms regarding certain property related issues is a good idea in the eyes of the State of Texas and property agreements like this are honored in most cases.

This may not be the case for your foreign courts. When considering where you should file your divorce and attempt to establish jurisdiction this is a question you need to ask yourself: whether or not you have come to an agreement on a premarital or post-marital agreement. If you have done so it would be unwise to file for divorce in a jurisdiction that would not honor the agreement.

Spousal maintenance: to pay or not to pay?

If you are in a position where you will need to be requesting spousal maintenance be paid from your spouse to you at the conclusion of your divorce you need to do your homework to determine what laws are most favorable in this regard. Texas only recently began to allow judges to impose orders regarding the payment of spousal maintenance. Even then, these payments are typically only allowed for a relatively short period of time and under limited circumstances. The length of your marriage, for instance, must be at least ten years and you must also show that you cannot provide for your minimal basic needs otherwise.

Service of process issues for international divorces

Typically, when you file for divorce in Texas you will have a constable or private process server pick up the divorce paperwork from the courthouse, drive out to your spouse’s residence or business and have him or she served personally with notice of your lawsuit having been filed. The process can take a few days but it is typically a low-key and simple transaction to complete. It is important, nonetheless, because your case cannot proceed without your first having provided notice of the lawsuit to your spouse.

There are international treaties that are in effect that govern how you can provide notice to any person who is a resident of a country that has signed on to that treaty. While the United Nations has a treaty in place that governs this subject, each member nation interprets its contents a bit differently. From personal experience, I can tell you that this step is one that can delay a case for weeks and even months. You are best served by hiring an attorney who knows how to quickly and correctly serve an opposing party with an international service of process.

More on international divorces to be posted tomorrow

In tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss more issues related to divorce from an international perspective. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we have covered please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. It would be an honor to meet with you to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have.

Our attorneys and staff share a commitment to putting your interests ahead of our own and to provide the best legal representation of any family law attorneys in southeast Texas. To find out what sets us apart from our competitors please give us a call today.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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